|The merry-go-round is one of the first of the carnival attractions to be seen|
when you enter that area. Here, the colorful steeds await their young knights
and ladies for the first rides of the day
Today begins the 155th annual Indiana State Fair, a festival that had its beginning in the harvest celebrations at the end of the growing season and continues as a gathering of people of all backgrounds and interests, much of it on display at the fair. There is so much! Beef and dairy cattle, chickens, ducks and geese; pigs, goats and sheep; baking, sewing, photography and painting; draft horses, pleasure horses and Standardbred racing. Then there is the carnival with it's side shows and rides.
And one cannot escape the annual onslaught of food: barbequed turkey legs, lemon shake-ups, funnel cakes and deep fried dill pickles. Just about any heart-exploding, cholesterol-laden delicacy in the world of carnival cuisine is available. The official "food" this year will be deep-fried ice cream. One of the most popular venues each year is the Indiana Pork Producers' tent, where they sell the best pork chop dinners and sandwiches to be had anywhere. Fact: the chops are sold just outside the Swine Barn, so you can see the piggy life cycle from birth to sandwich.
As I have for many years, I get my program, mark the exhibits I want to see and create a schedule that will allow me to take in as much as possible. My own favorites are the Clydesdale, Percheron and Belgian draft horse competitions, with 6 and 8-horse teams trotting around the Fair coliseum; their harness fittings gleam and jingle pleasantly, lending their individual music to the rhythm of the horses' gait.
Years ago, I edited a book about the history of the fair, designed its layout, and selected the artwork and photos to be included. I was struck by the unity to the fair's theme over the years as a place where people came to show what they'd accomplished over the year, whether it be growing the tallest cornstalk, the world's largest male hog or pumpkin, or having the best selection of tomatoes; baking the best apple pie, sewing the finest quilt, or making the best wine or beer -- we are all there to participate.
Usually, I choose to participate by entering paintings and photographs, on occasion some oatmeal cookies. This year, I've entered a few photographs and an antique hand-painted porcelain cup. I like to join all those who want to show their skills in a friendly environment. Even in this arena, its pleasant to see how many talented people there are in this world. I do it not so much to win but to be a part of my community, to become engaged in the activity around me, once again, to participate.
Of course, one can always hope ...